– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
DALLAS — Almost every player in the Dallas Stars locker room knew that the stinging criticisms made by the team’s CEO about the top two players on the team just 24 hours prior to their next game was a wake-up call for every player to push the Stars to another level as the midpoint of the season approached.
At least for one night, the players received the message loud and clear.
Alexander Radulov scored twice while both Jason Spezza and Blake Comeau had a goal and an assist as Dallas defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-1, the Stars’ first game since team CEO Jim Lites publicly called out Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for their play with comments he made to the Dallas Morning News on Friday. Dallas came into tonight’s game winning just three of its last nine games, prompting the pointed words from Lites.
“I think we all feel responsible. I think we want to be a better team,” said Spezza after the game. “It’s not just those guys that need to be better.”
Stars head coach Jim Montgomery altered each of his top three lines going into the game, including breaking up the top line of Benn, Seguin and Radulov. The line that remained in tact from their last game was that of Comeau, Radek Faksa and Tyler Pitlick, and those three were on the ice for the first goal of the game as Comeau scored his fourth of the season at 5:11 of the second period.
Radulov then scored twice in a span of 3:32 later in the second period, with his power-play goal at 14:43 — assisted by Spezza and Seguin — giving the Stars a 3-0 advantage heading into the second intermission.
“I wasn’t trying to pay attention to that,” Radulov said about the immediate fallout from Lites’ comments. “You can’t control those things. Whatever people say, they have their right to say it. It’s OK. I know and we all know in this locker room that these are our leaders and we’re behind them no matter what.”
Ben Bishop made the lead hold up for the Stars by making 33 saves, while Pitlock and Spezza scored within the first 2:20 of the third period to balloon Dallas’s lead to 5-0.
Detroit’s only goal came at 3:52 of the third period on Dylan Larkin’s power-play tally. The goal allowed Larkin to extend his points streak to 13 games.
The Red Wings have lost four in a row and are only 2-7-2 in their last 11 games.
“We deserved to lose, 100 percent,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “We lost too many [pucks]. They were faster than us all over the ice. I do not think that they are faster than us, so that’s the way we played. We have to be better than them.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 47 pictures in total.